Overexposed: Kids See Too Many Alcohol Ads On Cable

by , Jun 26, 2008, 5:00 AM
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beer commercialsAlcohol TV commercials are on the rise--and more young people are being exposed to them, especially on cable programs.

Georgetown University's Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) says 12- to-20-year-olds witnessed nearly a 40% rise in alcohol messaging from 2001 to 2007. The group says exposure levels to these ads by young people are the highest since the group begin monitoring ads in 2001.

But there is some progress--especially from one self-regulating approach from alcohol trade associations. Where 30% or more of a TV show's audience is made up of underage drinkers--under age 21--the group notes that the percentage of alcohol product ads on these programs has been trimmed to 6.3% in 2007 from 11% in 2003.

The main problem is cable TV.

In 2007, two-thirds, or 63%, of the alcohol ad placements--with more than 30% of its audience coming from young viewers--were on cable television.

This generated 95% of youth overexposure to alcohol advertising on television. In 2007, 53% of these ads came from beer advertising and 41% from distilled spirits advertising.

"The sad reality for kids and parents is that the alcohol industry's 30% standard is working on broadcast but not cable television," said CAMY executive director David Jernigan, in a release.

The group recommends that alcohol companies move toward a 15% threshold for youth audiences in TV shows. The group says that in 2006 and 2007, there were no alcohol industry-funded "responsibility" messages about underage drinking on television.

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth says 11 specific brands are responsible for 48.5 percent of the youth exposure to advertising. Those that exceed the 30% youth threshold are: Miller Lite, Corona Extra Beer, Coors Light, Hennessy Cognacs, Guinness, Samuel Adams, Bud Light, Smirnoff Vodkas, Disaronno Originale Amaretto, Miller Chill and Mike's beverages.

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